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Nashville Predators

Predators vs. Devils Plus/Minus: Saros Shows NJ Some Elite Goaltending



Photo of Juuse Saros, right, by John Russell/Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators bounced back from an uninspiring performance 24 hours prior against the New York Islanders to knock off the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday.

With every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s what went right and what didn’t during the Predators win over the Devils on Sunday.

(+) Juuse Saros with a vintage performance

It wasn’t just that Saros held the Devils to two goals in regulation (the 31st time this season he’s held opponents to two or fewer goals), he was a brick wall in overtime and the shootout.

Saros made two excellent saves in OT that showed why he’s tough to beat when he’s on his A game. First, he bailed out Filip Forsberg and Gustav Nyquist, who tried and failed a pass attempt in the offensive zone that led to an odd-man rush the other way with Jack and Luke Hughes crashing in. His other came with six seconds left in the extra period as he stopped Brendan Smith on the doorstep to send the game to the shootout.

Saros’ performance had to feel a little like pouring salt in the wound after New Jersey was forced to play Jake Allen after Kaapo Kahkonen left early with an injury. Both goalies were acquired by the Devils at the trade deadline back in March after several failed attempts to pry Saros away from the Predators.

(-) Still struggling to put home scoring chances

Nashville threw everything it could at the New York Islanders on Saturday but still couldn’t get anything past Semyon Varlamov. The Predators finished with 41 shots on goal, they had another 33 shots that were blocked, and they nearly doubled up the Islanders on scoring chances (50 to 28) and dominated in high-danger chances for (22 to 8).

Some of that bad luck carried over into the next day, but not quite to the degree it did in New York. Nashville had 35 shots on goal, 33 scoring chances for and 19 high-danger chances, but the difference was Roman Josi and Luke Evangelista converted two of those 33 chances into goals and Ryan O’Reilly punched home the game-winner in the shootout.

In total over the weekend, the Predators totaled 83 chances for, 76 shots on goal, 49 blocked shots and 41 high-danger chances for but had just two goals to show for it. Not very indicative of a team that’s ready to make some noise in the playoffs.

(+) Ryan O’Reilly clutch in the shootout

As he’s been in limited chances all season, O’Reilly doesn’t miss in the shootout. His goal in Sunday’s win was his third of the year, and he’s 3-for-3 in shootout attempts as a Predator with all three coming on the road. Additionally, the team is 6-for-7 in shootouts this year, and it’s only the second time they’ve had a shootout success rate of 50% or better.

(+) Responding the right way after a disappointing shutout loss

Losing the way the Predators did just 24 hours prior to the Islanders, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if they came out flat against the Devils. But Nashville bested New Jersey in shots (35-25), hits (17-13) and faceoffs won (35 to 28) with fewer giveaways (5 to 12), and with Saros’ inspired effort and a penalty kill that went 2-for-2, the Predators didn’t suffer a letdown after the letdown and got their magic number down to one.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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